-53 million additional cases of depression globally due to the pandemic; VR digital therapeutics helps meet this increasing demand with technology that can enhance treatment effectiveness –
TOKYO, Dec. 7, 2021 — Jolly Good Inc. (“Jolly Good”), a leading Japanese VR company which develops and provides medical VR and VR digital therapeutics, is expanding overseas and has developed an English version of its VR digital therapeutic tool that facilitates the treatment of depression (“VRDTx”). Jolly Good has invited Dr. Katharine “Kim” Larsson and Dr. Amaro Laria–behavioral medicine specialists based in Boston, MA, USA–to join Jolly Good as consultants for their VRDTx project. The VRDTx treatment approach is based on principles of cognitive-behavioral therapy. Dr. Larsson and Dr. Laria support the potential value of this innovative technology to facilitate in the treatment of depression, and have worked closely with Jolly Good to ensure that their product meets the demands of the USA audience. A demo version of this VRDTx technology will be exhibited for the first time at CES, the world’s largest technology event, which will be held in Las Vegas on January 5-8, 2022.
Exhibiting at CES, the world’s largest tech event
The VRDTx, developed by Jolly Good in consultation with Dr. Larsson and Dr. Laria, will be exhibited for the first time in the “health & wellness” category at CES, one of the world’s largest technology conferences. There’s a lot of excitement in anticipation of CES’s first in-person conference in two years, and they expect a very high number of attendants.
＜Information of CES＞
Date：Jan 5th (Wed) – Jan 8th (Sat), 2022
Place： North Hall, Las Vegas Convention and World Trade Center(LVCC), Las Vegas, NV, USA
53 million additional cases of depression raises concern about gaps in healthcare delivery
According to a study on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on mental disorders by Dr. Damian F. Santomauro and his colleagues at the University of Queensland, Australia, (published in online Lancet journal), the number of patients with major depressive disorder and anxiety disorders increased by more than 53 million and 76 million, respectively, with higher rates among women and young people. According to the Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA) MAP published by the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF), the availability of mental health services across the U.S. varies from region to region, with most regions meeting less than 50% of the demand for mental health services, which is inadequate.
Addressing regional disparities by enhancing treatment effectiveness with VR-facilitated treatment
Using VR technology in the treatment of depression can be a significant adjunct to enhance treatment effectiveness by allowing the patient to have a more realistic experience. Patients are able to immerse themselves almost “in vivo” in a VR environment and experience “first- hand” typical situations that are relevant to depressed patients. They identify with the characters in the scenes being able to take multiple subjective positions in the situations that are displayed. Watching the characters in the scenes express their thoughts and perspectives from a distanced position, can help patients reflect on their own thoughts and perspectives in similar situations in their lives. Enhancing the effectiveness of available treatments for depression can help alleviate the burden associated with the increasing demand for adequate mental health services worldwide.
＜Comments from the professional consultants＞
Dr. Kim Larsson and Dr. Amaro Laria joined the Jolly Good VRDTx project as professional consultants in 2021. They are the co-founders and co-directors of Boston Behavioral Medicine, LLC in Boston, MA, USA. Dr. Larsson is a graduate of Boston College School of Nursing, and a former supervisor at Cambridge Health Alliance, Harvard Medical School. Dr. Laria is a graduate of the University of Massachusetts Boston and a current Clinical Instructor in the Psychiatry Department of Cambridge Health Alliance, Harvard Medical School. They have expertise in behavioral medicine and currently run a training program.
“VRDTx can help improve quality and effectiveness in treating depression, which in turn can alleviate some of the burden associated with regional disparities in the US.”
Katharine “Kim” Larsson, PhD, RN, CS
Co-founder & Clinical Director
Boston Behavioral Medicine, LLC
“The COVID-19 pandemic has limited social interactions causing many to become isolated, which has significantly fueled levels of depression and anxiety. In turn, being depressed and anxious causes people to become more isolated, which impacts negatively on their functioning. VR technology can be an important adjunct for psychotherapists in the treatment of depression. “
“I foresee that VR technology will become more routine in the treatment of mental health conditions, and will represent an important clinical tool for psychotherapists to enhance the effectiveness of their treatments. Given the increasing demand for services and serious shortage of mental health clinicians, enhancing the effectiveness of our current treatments for depression will be essential in addressing this global mental health crisis.”
＜Dr. Larsson’s Biography＞
Dr. Katherine “Kim” Larsson is a doctoral level licensed clinical specialist, who has practiced as a psychotherapist and psycho-pharmacologist for over 20 years. Dr. Larsson underwent clinical training at McLean Hospital and The Cambridge Hospital, both teaching hospitals of Harvard Medical School. She is former Assistant Director of the Behavioral Medicine Program at Harvard Vanguard Medical Associates in Boston, and a former supervisor in the Behavioral Medicine Program at Cambridge Health Alliance, Harvard Medical School. She has carried out international work in Japan as a lecturer and consultant, helping to promote the development of behavioral medicine approaches among nurses and mental health clinicians.
“VRDTx can allow depressed patients to immerse themselves in real life situations, which can significantly enhance the effectiveness of their treatments”
Amaro J. Laria, PhD
Co-founder & Training Director, Boston Behavioral Medicine, LLC
Faculty / Clinical Supervisor, Psychiatry Department, Cambridge Health Alliance, Harvard Medical School
“VR technology brings an experiential and interactive element into the therapy room. It’s an important complement to the ‘talking’ element in psychotherapy, and it results in a more balanced and comprehensive treatment. For example, if a patient is talking about their lack of motivation, the therapist can invite them to reflect on a scene they watched in a VR session, which provides a more vivid and concrete illustration of what the lack of motivation may look like in real life.
Moreover, watching a realistic scene in a VR environment may trigger a particular memory of a similar situation in their own lives, which will allow them to process this material in their talking therapy. VRDTx can also facilitate the process of learning strategies like self-monitoring and cognitive restructuring, which are core to cognitive-behavioral therapy, by providing a role play opportunity through a realistic illustration in VR. It can also be a good replacement for in-vivo exposure, especially in situations in which it’s difficult to recreate real life exposure situations.
＜Dr. Laria’s Biography＞
Dr. Amaro Laria is a licensed clinical psychologist with over 30 years of experience as a psychotherapist. He uses a patient-centered integrative approach that highlights the centrality of the therapeutic relationship and the role of emotions in treatment. Dr. Laria is director of the Boston Behavioral Medicine Training Program, and holds a faculty appointment as Clinical Instructor at Harvard Medical School through his affiliation with the Department of Psychiatry at Cambridge Health Alliance. He obtained his PhD in clinical psychology at University of Massachusetts Boston in 1997, and was a NIMH post-doctoral research fellow in the Social Medicine Department at Harvard Medical School. He served as advisor on cultural issues to the DSM-5 workgroup on anxiety disorders.
VR therapeutics for depression （ https://jollygood.co.jp/vrdtx/en ）
VRDTx was developed by Jolly Good and is based on basic principles of cognitive-behavioral therapy (“CBT”), adapting CBT strategies to a VR environment. This treatment strategy allows patients to experience “realistic role play” situations that are typical of many individuals suffering from depression. The experiential quality of this treatment tool can make treatment more relevant to patients, which in turn can significantly enhance treatment effectiveness.
About Jolly Good（ https://jollygood.co.jp/ ）
Jolly Good is a medical technology company that develops high-precision VR solutions and AI-based medical and welfare services that analyze user behavior in the VR space. Using technologies such as VR and AI, the company is accelerating human growth and social rehabilitation in medical education, support for persons with disabilities, and treatment of mental illness. Through their collaboration with various research institutes and companies, Jolly Good is at the forefront in the evolution of health care by developing technological innovations that facilitate the provision of health care services.
※Photo: From left: Dr. Larsson and Dr. Laria of Boston Behavioral Medicine, LLC; and Kensuke Joji, CEO of Jolly Good.